Still Low Rolling in Las Vegas
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LAS VEGAS -- Britney Spears, as big as Godzilla, covers an entire wing of the MGM Grand. Microsoft, having apparently hired the same berserk banner printer, has wrapped the 17-story Marriott Suites in Windows XP wallpaper, and an Intel Pentium 4 poster adorns the Hilton. Between them and the huge American flag added since September 11 as a patriotic but peculiar backdrop to the nightly pirate-ship battle in Treasure Island's Buccaneer Bay, Las Vegas has changed from a city of neon to one of drapery.
And Comdex/Fall has changed even more. As we wrote in our first report, the computer industry's biggest U.S. trade show is much smaller this year, with maybe half the attendance and exhibition space of its glory years (circa 1999). It's less about PCs than ever, with no exhibits from IBM or Dell but big booths from wireless phone firms like Nokia and NTT DoCoMo.
That's not to say there's no life in the PC, of course, just that the PC is becoming part of a digital landscape instead of hogging the limelight. And, as always at Comdex, products ranged from technologically far out to winsomely simple. Sweden's Senseboard Technologies demonstrated two Bluetooth-connected "virtual keyboard" sensors (promised for March) that strap to your palms, then let you type on a desk or table as if it were a keyboard -- wirelessly translating your finger tappings to text input for a PDA, wearable computer, or smart phone. (A pause function lets you use your hands to answer the phone or scratch your nose.)